How to Cook With Winter Greens

How to Cook With Winter Greens

As the weather turns colder, winter greens like kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard make their entrance. These hardy plants actually become sweeter after a frost, allowing us to enjoy their rich flavors all season long. Cooking with winter greens is rewarding, nutritious, and downright delicious when done thoughtfully.

Benefits of Cooking With Winter Greens

Winter greens shine with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support our health. Kale and collards brim with vitamins A, C, and K. Swiss chard delivers vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, iron and fiber. By cooking with seasonal produce we benefit from these nutrients while also reducing food waste and our carbon footprint.

Selecting Winter Greens

Look for deeply colored leaves without signs of wilting when buying fresh greens. Smaller leaves tend to be more tender. For collard greens, choose smaller leaves under 8 inches long. You can find winter greens at farmers markets, CSAs, and many grocery stores. Seek out local options to maximize freshness.

Storing Winter Greens

Keep winter greens chilled in plastic bags in the refrigerator. Use them within 3-5 days for best quality and flavor. Sturdy greens also freeze well – just blanch them first.

Preparing Winter Greens

Rinse greens just before use and dry thoroughly with a salad spinner or towels. Trim away thick stems which can be bitter or tough. Stack leaves and roll lengthwise for easier chopping. You can braise, boil, steam or sauté winter greens depending on the recipe.

Recipes for Cooking Winter Greens

From soups to casseroles to salads, winter greens pair beautifully with grains, beans, nuts, and citrus. Some tasty ways to eat them include:

  • Sauté greens with garlic and red pepper flakes
  • Add to pasta, gnocchi, or pizza
  • Mix into frittatas, omelets, or quiches
  • Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Blend into pestos, dips, and smoothies


What’s the best way to cook winter greens?

It depends on the type of greens and what texture you prefer. Braising, steaming and sautéing are all excellent cooking methods.

Can I freeze winter greens?

Yes, sturdy greens like kale, collards and chard freeze very well. Blanch them first, then freeze in airtight bags for up to 6 months.

How can I use up a lot of greens at once?

Make a big pot of soup or braise a batch to add to grains bowls, pastas, frittatas etc. throughout the week. Giant salads work too.

What are the most nutritious winter greens?

Kale, collards, Swiss chard and mustard greens are all excellent options packed with vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting compounds.

How do I make winter greens taste good?

Balance their bitterness with acid (lemon/vinegar), sweetness (maple syrup/caramelized onions) and richness (olive oil/nuts). Slow braising also mellows their flavor.